How to stay green in the red zone

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 11:09 31/01/2014
Kent Neilson
Daniel Tobin/Fairfax NZ
RISKY MOVE: Brooklands red-zoner Kent Neilson has not strayed too far from home, having bought one of the few green-zoned plots up for sale in the semi-rural settlement in north Christchurch.

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Kent Neilson could not bear the thought of leaving red-zoned Brooklands - so he didn't.

The racehorse trainer was gutted to learn his home of more than 20 years would be written off by the near area-wide red-zoning of the north Christchurch settlement.

In a risky move, Neilson bought a nearby section which remained green because it was zoned rural.

"I wanted to stay in Brooklands. It's nice and peaceful and quiet," he said. "You couldn't buy a section . . . so I had to buy a block of land."

Neilson plans to relocate his existing home and is preparing a resource consent submission. Despite engineering advice supporting the move, there was no guarantee.

His plans included site-specific foundation design and raising the land beyond the flood plain level. "If the council knock me back, I'll be disappointed," he said.

Neilson was planning to build a home on his land when the red-zoning of 417 properties was announced in November 2011.

The slow breakdown of the community since had been tough.

"You get to know everybody. You see them go past and give them a wave, and all of a sudden they've gone everywhere."

He felt the Crown offer for his land - $152,000 - was too low for a riverside property with a beautifully landscaped vista, and considered rejecting it to join the "stayers".

Another 34 Brooklands landowners rejected Crown offers to remain on their red-zoned land. However, their homes are uninsurable, near worthless and under threat of compulsory acquisition by the Government.

Neilson's new plot could have been lost to red-zoning also as the previous owner's plans to rezone it residential were under way when the September 2010 quake struck.

He hopes to have his consent approved before the April 24 deadline to leave his home.

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- The Press

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